- Paperback: 1087 pages
- Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 3rd edition (March 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393968197
- ISBN-13: 978-0393968194
- Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 8.2 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of Narrative Film 3rd Edition
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Now in its third edition, A History of Narrative Film continues to be the most comprehensive and complete history of international cinema in print. This book conveys the vastness and heterogeneity of film history; it describes the extraordinary number of extraordinary films that have been made over the last hundred years. Even in 1,100 pages and more than 1,500 illustrations, Cook can but summarize the development of film narrative and film art in every major country. He has wisely complemented his survey with in-depth analyses of three hugely important movies, The Birth of a Nation, The Battleship Potemkin, and Citizen Kane. He also focuses on major films--The Rules of the Game, Tokyo Story, Vertigo, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors--when he assesses the careers of landmark directors. This edition, updated for the '90s, adds a section on "Hollywood 1965-present," as well as new chapters on "The Former Soviet Union" and "Third World Cinema."
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Cook covers many important aspects of the film industry, from the beginnings up through the modern era (different editions naturally leave off at different points - I think mine is from the 90's). He discusses the technical, business and artistic aspects of the film industry and their interactions in some depth. For example, the discussion of competing sound technologies, the business decisions involved in the transition to sound and how those factors influenced what sorts of pictures got made was quite fascinating to me.
As someone with a fairly wide, but scattershot experience of films I found this book to be just about perfect in terms of the level of detail it goes into. It allowed me to place many of my favorite films into a broader, more structured context and to see their relation to film history much more clearly.
I would actually have appreciated it if the book were not limited to narrative film, since many of the earliest films were not narratives and the interplay between avant-garde and mainstream film would be covered in much more detail if non-narrative films were included.
Because the book covers so much ground, only the major highlights of each subject can be explored, but Cook is still able to give a good survey of important considerations for each topic or artist. Emphasis also is on the word "world" and Hollywood does not dominate, which for a book like this is good. In fact, I think the book is especially useful for anyone interested in the artform as it exists outside the Hollywood system. An excellent survey, well worth checking out.
Well Cook does, and does it better than anyone else.
The most amazing thing about this book is that is reads so well: you can literally open it up anywhere, start reading, and start learning -- and be entertained at the same time. I just love reading this book.
The second amazing thing is that Cook seems to have seen a lot of movies and taken the time to think carefully about them. As a result his comments, his sense of historical perspective, and his assertions are usually accurate, frequently insightful, and always enlightenling.
If you're studying film in ANY context, this is the book to buy. If you prefer a video store with a foreign language section instead of your local Blockbuster, this is the catalog for you. Within days of reading this book I was making lists of films that I had to see (The Red And The White, and the Wadja trilogy among them), and running out to find them.
For those in need of a text-book, this is the best value-for-money you can get. For thos FEARING a text-book, relax: it's actually a real page turner.
Any short-commings? There are some minor factual errors (the photographs demonstrating zoom, telephoto and wide lenses use inaccurate frames from Barry Lyndon, for example), but nothing to worry about -- there so much about this book that's good it really doesn't make a difference. The only real problem is that it will never be big enough.
This is the book against which the others are judged.
of the narrative film from its beginnings with Edison and
the Lumieres, through the great silent era, the advents of
sound and color, to today's world of computer generated
special effects. The book focuses on significant technical
developments and artistic trends in the history of films. It
includes chapters on the coming of sound, Eisenstein and the
rise of montage, genres like the film noir, directors such as
Orson Welles, W.D. Griffith and Alfred Hitchcock, and foreign
films. It is richly illustrated with photos and prints from
most of the films covered in the text.
David Cook is a professor of English and Film Studies at Emory
University in Atlanta, Georgia. He has taught courses in
film studies for over 15 years.